JA­SON SOMERVILLE HEAD OF AERO FW37

In con­ver­sa­tion with F1 Rac­ing

F1 Racing - - WORLD -

Where did you start with de­sign­ing the FW37?

We have in­puts from a num­ber of sources: the reg­u­la­tion changes for 2015, the re­vised en­gine from Mercedes and on­go­ing aero de­vel­op­ments specif­i­cally aimed at ad­dress­ing the weak­nesses of the FW36. The goal is ob­vi­ously to make the FW37 a step faster, and we have teams work­ing across all ar­eas of the car to achieve this.

What is an aero­dy­nam­i­cist’s main role?

It varies, but as an ex­am­ple, one per­son might have a front-wing pack­age they are work­ing on, ini­tially in Com­puter Aided De­sign (CAD), which they re­fine and it­er­ate us­ing our vir­tual wind­tun­nel (CFD). The most promis­ing aero­dy­namic sur­faces might then be con­sid­ered from a struc­tural per­spec­tive, and, if suc­cess­ful, will be man­u­fac­tured for wind­tun­nel test­ing and pos­si­ble race re­lease. Our pro­cesses are rel­a­tively ef­fi­cient, but only a hand­ful of the many com­po­nents we test make it to the car.

You must have a long sched­ule for ev­ery part in­volved in the con­struc­tion of the FW37?

We work to a set of dead­lines – aero­dy­nam­i­cists are spe­cial­ists in re­fin­ing and per­fect­ing their work, but there is a tar­get date for re­lease of each com­po­nent. We know the car has to be on the grid for the first race of the year, and that doesn’t change. Ev­ery­thing flows back from there.

What do you make of the new chal­lenges posed by 2015 and the changes in the regs?

The big­gest change is another re­vi­sion to the nose reg­u­la­tions; peo­ple can judge for them­selves whether they look any more at­trac­tive – they cer­tainly look dif­fer­ent. The nose change has had knock-on ef­fects to the front wing, front sus­pen­sion and chas­sis de­vices. A less vis­i­ble change has been the evo­lu­tion of the Mercedes en­gine, which has re­quired sig­nif­i­cant changes to the car’s de­sign. We’ve also spent time ex­ploit­ing the de­sign free­dom from the FW37 rear cor­ner, which is an im­por­tant area for car per­for­mance.

The new nose is more like the FW36 rather than the Mercedes or Fer­rari so­lu­tions of 2014. Why?

We knew we had a rea­son­ably strong base to work from and we wanted to keep the pos­i­tive as­pects of the pre­vi­ous car. You could de­cide to adopt a com­peti­tor’s nose so­lu­tion, but you’d need to do that for a very good rea­son, rather than sim­ply, ‘It’s on car X – let’s go for that.’

Weren’t the new reg­u­la­tions ap­plied to re­move the ap­pendages?

The prin­ci­ple was to force the cars to have a low nose via an ex­clu­sion box with di­men­sional lim­i­ta­tions, in­clud­ing min­i­mum ar­eas a few mil­lime­tres back from the nose tip. Un­less the FIA is will­ing to pre­scribe the nose and say, ‘race with that’ there’ll al­ways be some free­dom. And if you give en­gi­neers some free­dom, they’ll ex­ploit it to try to find an ad­van­tage that suits their car.

Are you ever sat­is­fied? Or does it al­ways feel like a com­pro­mise?

It’s hard to be sat­is­fied and one mea­sure of that is how quickly we fo­cus on the next up­date, and even the next car. We are al­ready start­ing to put down ini­tial ideas for our 2016 car and that pro­gramme kicks off soon. So even be­fore the car has run this year, we are look­ing at next year’s.

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